Current Affairs History Military Politics

Kincora Boys Home, The Scandal Britain Can’t Bury

The once much-lauded British Unionist militant and notorious paedophile William McGrath photographed in his regalia as a “chaplain” of the Orange Order. Throughout the 1970s he procured the “ritualised” abuse of children for suspected members of the British military, police, judiciary, government and aristocracy

The Kincora Boys’ Home scandal represents one of the darker aspects of Britain’s counter-insurgency war in Ireland during the late 1960s, ‘70s and early 1980s. During this period British political, military and ethno-religious interests converged around a ritualistic paedophile grouping in the city of Belfast, one that exploited young children for the benefit of locally based or garrisoned officials, diplomats, politicians, soldiers, police officers, judges and terrorists. While claims have been made that the extended protection for those engaged in the abuse was at the behest of the UK intelligence agencies in order to gather information on known extremists primarily (or wholly) from within the British Unionist community, this does not excuse the horrors that were permitted by the authorities in Belfast and London. Especially when all evidence points to the alleged intelligence gathering being a secondary objective or simply a smoke-screen covering up what was really occurring; a frequently rumoured ring of child-abusers at the heart of Britain’s establishment, encompassing members of the aristocracy, civil service and armed forces, exploiting the chaos of the conflict in Ireland to carry out the sexual, physical and psychological abuse of children on a massive scale. In this sense the dreadful events at Kincora typified the attitudes of many in the UK to the parastate of “Northern Ireland”: a distant colony of the empire, besieged by enemies within and without, where anything was permissible.

The events at the Kincora Boys Home all those years ago has tainted every organisation or group that came into contact with them, however tangentially: the British internal and external intelligence services MI5 and MI6, the British military, the now disbanded Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the Democratic Unionist Party  or DUP which is currently part of the regional government at Stormont, the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, and several others. However despite decades of denial the end of the Long War has finally opened the eyes of the news media in Ireland and Britain to the evidence before them, evidence which many journalistic ideologues refused to see or discuss for decades. From today’s Guardian newspaper:

“MI5 is facing allegations it was complicit in the sexual abuse of children, the high court in Northern Ireland will hear on Tuesday.

Victims of the abuse are taking legal action to force a full independent inquiry with the power to compel witnesses to testify and the security service to hand over documents.

The case, in Belfast, is the first in court over the alleged cover-up of British state involvement at the Kincora children’s home in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. It is also the first of the recent sex abuse cases allegedly tying in the British state directly. Victims allege that the cover-up over Kincora has lasted decades.

Amnesty International branded Kincora “one of the biggest scandals of our age” and backed the victims’ calls for an inquiry with full powers: “There are longstanding claims that MI5 blocked one or more police investigations into Kincora in the 1970s in order to protect its own intelligence-gathering operation, a terrible indictment which raises the spectre of countless vulnerable boys having faced further years of brutal abuse.”

Children are alleged to have suffered sustained sexual abuse after being taken from the east Belfast children’s home, run by a member of a Protestant paramilitary organisation, to be offered to men.

Lawyers for the victims will argue in court that “there is credible evidence (and it is therefore arguable) that the security forces and security services were aware of the abuse, permitted it to continue and colluded in protecting the individuals involved from investigation or prosecution”, according to papers lodged with the Belfast high court.

Two former British military officials say a full inquiry with proper powers should take place. One says MI5 was complicit in the abuses; another says he reported it to MI5 but no action was taken.

Colin Wallace, a former army information officer in Northern Ireland, said: “There is now irrefutable evidence that previous inquiries were deliberately engineered or manipulated to mislead parliament by concealing the role of government agencies in covering up the abuses.”

The demand for an inquiry with full powers was supported last week by parliament’s home affairs committee.

The government wants the allegations covered by a different inquiry which lacks the powers to compel MI5 to hand over documents and cannot compel witnesses to testify. The government’s preferred option will not fund lawyers for the victims.

Three men were jailed for their part in abuse at Kincora in 1981, but attempts to establish the truth about British state involvement have been blocked. It has persistently been alleged that William McGrath, Kincora’s housemaster and the leader of an extreme evangelical Protestant group called Tara, was an informant for British intelligence. McGrath was jailed for sexual offences in 1981 and is now dead.

There have been limited inquiries into Kincora, but officers of the former Royal Ulster Constabulary, army intelligence officers, a former Northern Ireland ombudsman, and the judges conducting those earlier inquiries all said the truth about what went on there – and why it was allowed to continue for so many years – had been suppressed.

RUC officers were repeatedly refused permission in the 1980s to interview a senior MI5 official about the affair.”

2 comments on “Kincora Boys Home, The Scandal Britain Can’t Bury

  1. ar an sliabh

    it appears that, unfortunately, many of those that hold some power use it to victimize the most vulnerable. I count myself lucky having been in a vulnerable situation like that as a child, that nothing of that sort happened to me. Shameful that government agencies aware of the abuse did nothing. Shameful that most governments world-wide, including our own have, at one time or another, turned a blind eye to this sort of behaviour by those with social status and failed to protect the truly innocent and failed to punish the guilty.


    • Northsider

      Ken Livingstone made some very interesting comments about Kincora a few years ago, the gist of which were that British intelligence used the home to entrap and blackmail politicians. Paisley was often portrayed as a maverick – a man of integrity, whether you agreed or disagreed with him – but the facts don’t necessarily bear this out. When the chips were down he could always be relied upon to row in behind the establishment, e.g., his unwavering support for the wars of the Anglo-American alliance. There’s been a persistent rumour that many British MPs from the two big parties were blackmailed into supporting the Iraq War – the intelligence agencies are said to have threatened to expose their secrets (some of them criminal) if they didn’t go along. Surely it would be naïve to assume that similar nefarious methods aren’t sometimes used to control politicians in this jurisdiction?


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